Rishi Sunak opens door to Boris Johnson return after nightmare election poll

Rishi Sunak has opened the door to Boris Johnson joining the general election campaign trail amid nightmare polling for the Tories.

The Prime Minister has insisted he has yet to make his mind up on when voters will go to the polls, fuelling further speculation about the timing.

He told The Sun’s Never Mind the Ballots show Mr Johnson would be welcome to join the campaign trail.

The ex-Prime Minister could be deployed in battleground seats to prop up Tory support. Mr Johnson led the Conservatives to a stonking 80-seat majority in 2019.

Mr Sunak told The Sun any sign of a frosty relationship may have thawed since last year.

He said: “I spoke to him in person at the end of last year… Anyone from the Conservative family who wants to see a Conservative reelected and who doesn’t think Keir Starmer is the right person to lead our country will be welcome on the campaign trail.

“Ultimately, that’s the choice. It’s myself or Keir Starmer after the next election. If you want to cut taxes, if you want a better approach to net zero, if you want a better approach to immigration, we’re the ones to do that for you.”

It emerged in March that Mr Johnson was being lined up to campaign in Red Wall seats in the Midlands and north of England.

Mr Johnson’s allies and Government figures have said he will make speeches and feature on campaign literature.

Mr Sunak’s comments came as pollsters found he is on course to suffer a general election defeat similar to the Conservatives‘ 1997 blowout.

YouGov polling has found Labour would win 403 seats from across the UK, leading to a 154-seat majority in the House of Commons.

The Conservatives would win just 155 seats, down from the 365 seats they won at the 2019 general election.

The analysis, which uses the multi-level regression and poststratification (MRP) method of polling, found that prominent Tory figures including Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, and Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg would be on course to lose their seats.

According to the pollsters, Mr Sunak is heading for a worse result than Sir John Major’s 1997 defeat, when the then-Tory leader won a total of 165 seats.

Sir Keir Starmer is, meanwhile, on course to win a victory on par with that of Tony Blair’s in his first term of office. In 1997, the party’s longest-serving prime minister won 418 of the available 659 Commons seats.

Other top Tory figures at risk of losing their seats include Cabinet members Michelle Donelan, the Science Secretary, and Welsh Secretary David TC Davies, according to the poll.

Asked by the Sun’s Never Mind the Ballots programme about the Conservatives’ recent drop in the polls, Mr Sunak said: “It has been a frustrating time and I completely appreciate that. There’s going to be lots of polls.

“What matters is the general election and that’s what I’m focusing on.”

The PM said his continued “working assumption” is an election will take place in the second half of the year, but added he has not decided when this will be as he is “busy focusing on the things that matter to people”.

YouGov’s modelling is based on vote intention data collected and analysed by the pollster from 18,761 British adults interviewed from March 7-27.


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